Germany excludes France from new tank project – media
Germany will manufacture a new main battle tank to replace its Leopard 2 fleet, together with Italy, Spain, and Sweden, the Handelsblatt newspaper has claimed. Berlin has been pursuing a similar project with France since 2017.
The four nations have already signed an agreement for the new program, unnamed industry and political sources have confirmed, according to a report on Wednesday.
German arms manufacturers Krauss-Maffei Wegmann and Rheinmetall will work with Italy’s Leonardo and Sweden’s Saab, Handelsblatt said, without naming the Spanish partner. According to the newspaper, the European Defense Fund will provide backing estimated at hundreds of millions of euros. The information has not been officially confirmed.
Germany is already developing a successor to the Leopard 2 tank under the Main Ground Combat System (MGCS) project with France, which wants the final product to supersede its Leclerc armor. Announced in 2017, the project has faced delays despite participants maintaining it was on track.
“We want to continue this joint project despite all the doomsayers and rumors,” German Defense Minister Boris Pistorius said in July at a meeting in Berlin with French counterpart Sebastien Lecornu. Both ministers promised progress on the MGCS by the end of the year.
The Franco-German tank initiative was announced alongside a similar plan to create a next-generation fighter jet, in a move touted as reducing European reliance on US weapons systems.
The MGCS is intended to become a comprehensive platform for land warfare, with multiple weapon systems derived from it. The project has reportedly stalled due to disagreements over specifications.
The French military is seeking to obtain lighter vehicles more suited to air transportation, and thus better for operations in Africa, Handelsblatt said. Germany reportedly wants better protection for a potential standoff with Russia.